Gourmet ice cream and sorbet manufacturer Hill Station got into exhibiting practically "pre-launch", director Gina Hall explains. In 1996 it went straight to the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham using it as an opportunity to do a "giant consumer taste test". A year later it followed this up with the same show in London. Sial 1998 was the company's first overseas trade fair. Hall says: "We knew it was early but we wanted to fly the flag and let people know we were around. FFB was a tremendous help, we wouldn't have done it without them." For Hall, exhibitions are all about being seen. "It's a lot to do with getting out there, letting people see your products and get to know the name. "Foreign buyers, in particular, are reassured about your business if they see you at a number of different trade events. Buyers want to see you around for a while before they'll go for it." Hall and partners went to SIAL with realistic expectations and although they didn't come away with overseas orders, it made them a lot more of a credible supply proposition the next time they saw buyers at IFE 1999. "IFE was very good. We saw the same foreign buyers. Seeing us again reinforces to potential customers that you're serious about growing your business because they can see you investing." Hall offers two pieces of advice to first-time exhibitors. "Make sure your stand really stands out and expresses your brand. We don't spend lots of money on our stand because we do it ourselves, but it takes an awful lot of effort." And energy is the key to making it work on the day. "We're always sure we've got at least two directors on the stand and we don't sit down. "It's our money we're spending and we've got to make sure it works for us." Hill Station's turnover in 2000 is expected to be £750,000. {{MANAGEMENT FEATURE }}